The Aesthetic Design of Freeways

March 1, 2015
A Reading List

A collection of resources exploring the physical design of freeway and highway infrastructure — from the shapes of interchanges to the cinderblock patterns on freeway sound walls. It’s about the way freeways look, the way they appear (or don’t) to the driver and passenger, how they use the land, and how their concrete forms have been sculpted and grafted onto the landscape.

Burning Man and the Metropolis

January 10, 2011
It's not exactly the ideal place to build a city. No water, little vegetation, limited animal life. August temperatures climb to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and drop close to freezing at night. High winds kick up powder-fine dust into blinding storms. The place is, in a word, inhospitable.

But year after year in late summer, a small city rises on this ancient lakebed in the Black Rock Desert, in Pershing County in northwestern Nevada. It's the annual event — or festival, or party — known as Burning Man, an eight-day experiment in self-expression and self-reliance that is now one of the most notorious cultural events in North America. What began as a bonfire attended by 20 friends on a San Francisco beach in 1986 has exploded into a global mega-event with 50,000 participants.

The Olympics and the City

February 8, 2010
On Friday February 12 the 2010 Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver. Like all host cities, Vancouver had to plan for a sprint and a marathon — it had to develop, finance, design and build a range of sport and residential venues that would not only make the two-week event a big success but also, when the world had gone back home, become a vital and enduring part of the city fabric.

Vancouver planning director Brent Toderian spoke recently with journalist Nate Berg, of Planetizen, about how the city, known for progressive planning and green thinking, was meeting the Olympic challenge.

Nate Berg: Your city is just about to host the Olympics. What’s the mood like there?